A Kauai peanut butter smoothie. Picture: THE HERALD
A Kauai peanut butter smoothie. Picture: THE HERALD

Dean Kowarski, CEO of Real Foods, which acquired the Kauai group in 2015, shared with Business Day TV's Big Small Business Show how business after business, he was working towards the day when his ventures would reflect his passions.

Kowarski, a qualified chartered accountant, spent the early years of his career working in finance in New York before ditching his suit and the corporate world to pursue his passion for food and nutrition.

He said working in corporate finance was a sacrifice he’d had to make but the experience gained was invaluable.

“It wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed doing... It’s not a quick sacrifice to give me the freedom to be able to take the risks I take, to be who I really want to be now.

A lot of young people today don’t understand that process. It’s not instant gratification. That is a rare story where someone just comes up with a concept, sells it for a fortune of money. It’s hard work, a sense of integrity and pride in what you do. That is what’s going to make you successful in the long run.”

He said the process of taking over and rebranding Kauai was met with much backlash from the franchise’s customers who where fiercely loyal to the brand.

“At the same time my team and I had an absolute believe of where we wanted to take Kauai. We knew it wasn’t a quick fix, we knew it wasn’t a three or four month process. We had to win people over; we had to communicate to people what we were doing. So we had this believe that in the long-term this was the right thing to do but we did need to see it through.”

He said 15 months after the revamped Kauai launched, people have grown to appreciate the new look and what the company stands for.

Kowarski also shared the advantages of allowing staff to experiment and make mistakes and learning to focus and follow through in business.

The Big Small Business Show airs on Business Day TV channel 412

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